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Lucky Angelenos Explore NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for Free


The Mars exploration tent included various demo versions of the Mars Rover and related instruments.The Mars exploration tent included various demo versions of the Mars Rover and related instruments.

Sure, you can take a trip to Cape Canaveral and visit Kennedy Space Station, or travel to Houston to check out Johnson Space Center, but some of the most famous missions into our solar system originated right here in L.A. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena — or La Cañada Flintridge, depending on what your GPS tells you — offers free tours to the public. The only problem is that JPL tours fill up months in advance. It was no surprise, then, that free tickets to JPL's June open house were gone in a matter of minutes when they were made available to the public in April. This past weekend, the 20,000 people lucky enough to secure tickets got an up-close, behind-the-scenes look at the JPL campus. Space enthusiasts peeked in at mission control as well as the Spacecraft Assembly Facility, where the Mars Rover and the Jupiter Juno spacecrafts were built. Scientists, engineers and project teams were on hand to demonstrate and discuss some of the state-of-the-art technology going into our solar system. All photos by Jared Cowan.